Jul 8

What’s normal when I am a new mum?

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What’s normal when I am a new mum?

Firstly, this is all new, and new can feel weird, odd, scary.  New can also feel amazing, fabulous and exciting.  That is the strange wonderful thing about becoming a parent, we can experience all this on both ends, moment to moment.  It’s normal for it to take some time to adjust, it is also normal to feel some worry, nervousness and anxiety day to day.  The key is to pace yourself, be honest with yourself and your loved ones and give yourself some grace!

We are bombarded as parents from the moment of conception with experts and opinions of how to be the best parent, what we need to buy, how to act, what to attend, what to believe.  What we need to avoid, take away and manage to be the optimal parent.  Being a parent is not a race, we don’t get a badge for making it first and contrary to often portrayed, it is not a competition.

Being a good enough parent.

There is no such thing as a perfect parent, we cannot and do not need to get it right all the time.  In fact, it is well documented that as children grow, they must see that their parents don’t always get it right.  It gives them permission as children to make mistakes, essential when learning new things. 

Things to be mindful of as a new parent:
  • Everyone has an opinion, but no one truly knows your circumstances.  Choose who you respect, listen to and then check in with yourself.  Does this resonate with me?  Do I need this information?  Does it serve me, help me?  If not, let it go.  You don’t have to take on every idea, comment, or friendly advice put forward.
  • Expectations cause anxiety.  Every minute doesn’t need to be filled, the Insta life is not a real one.  A task a day, a rest day, a day out, a day in,  you don’t need to do everything, every day. 
  • Get a breath of fresh air. Especially with regards to our mental health, being outside help can be a game changer in feeling well and capable.  To absorb some sunshine, breath, notice nature.  Sometimes the brief conversation with the server at the shop is enough to lift spirits.
  • Seek help if you feel you need it.  Using a therapist gives you the space aside from the role of mother, worker, partner, friend to understand your feelings, needs and worries.
You are normal
  • Its normal to be tired.  Parenthood is hard work, you are allowed to feel tired, it is normal.  It is not ok however, to feel exhausted. When our reserves of energy are low, this is when low self-esteem, mental health struggle can kick in.  We tend as a community to normalise exhaustion, often worn as a badge of honour. 
  • Its normal for it to take a little time to get used to it.  New routines take time, being realistic can help with feeling anxious.  Asking too much of ourselves can escalate mental stress and feelings of anxiety.
  • Its normal to feel a little lonely, displaced a little.  Going on maternity leave can feel like a blessing and a curse.  We can feel that without work and the freedoms we had before that we feel a little lost.  Creating another network of a few new friends who have similar timetables, locality and circumstances as yourself can be so helpful in maintaining wellbeing. 
  • Its normal to need some support.  Not everyone has family, partners and a team of support.  So sometimes we have to look outside the box, support groups, neighbours, local friends.
  • Its normal that some of us need more support than others.  Everyone needs to support at some point in life.
Remember…..
  • You don’t need to do everything
  • You do need to eat, sleep, take a walk sometimes and get outside. 
  • It changes, a lot, all the time.
  • Everyone else does not know what they are doing.
What does anxiety feel like?

Anxiety feels different to each individual.  We can feel overwhelmed, a sense of mild panic brewing.  It can be felt in our chest, or throughout our bodies.  We can feel out of control, unable to make decisions, unable to relax or concentrate on tasks.  Often, we feel like we cannot be present, that we spend time forecasting the future in the hope of reducing our anxiety.

When to seek professional help

Anxiety and depression is not a black and white thing, it runs along a spectrum.  We can all feel anxious sometimes, but if it’s prolonged and intense then speaking to a professional for support can help.  You need not do this alone.

They can include:

  • feeling down and teary
  • an inability to concentrate
  • low sex drive
  • feeling worthless
  • inability to feel happiness
  • sleep problems
  • anger
  • finding it difficult to leave the house
  • overeating
  • problems bonding with your baby
  • suicidal thoughts.

The NHS has a screening tool that you can use to help you identify your moods:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mood-self-assessment/

Finally, we all need support sometimes, talking to someone who isn’t a friend or connected to your circle can be an empowering and freeing experience.  To be able to talk freely without the worry of upsetting or saying the ‘wrong thing’ We spend time looking at what is troubling you.  So often the actual act of saying it aloud and hearing it, reduces the fear and anxiety.

When to call the GP.  Post natal psychosis can affect us after birth. 

More advanced symptoms can include:

  • Delusions (possibly about the baby) – having thoughts or beliefs that are unlikely to be true, and that other people don’t share.
  • Hallucinations – sensing smells, visions or voices that don’t exist outside the mind.
  • Mania – talking quickly, disorganised thinking, restlessness, confusion, appearing ‘high’.
  • Loss of inhibitions.
  • Behaving out of character – more talkative, active, suspicious, fearful, giggly or sociable than usual.
  • Depression – low mood, tearful, trouble sleeping.
  • Severe mood swings.
How to help

Finding joy and happiness in your parenting journey can be a day to day navigation.  It is normal for it to be hard sometimes, and it can take time to adjust.    Often, we have times that we feel a sense of grief at our old life, this is normal too.   Please do not struggle alone in isolation, share with people your trust, you will probably find that they have had similar struggles too!

If you would like to talk with a therapist, please feel free to call me in the strictest confidence to see how I can support you.  I believe that we are all capable of living a life that is fulfilling, nourishing and content.  This takes time, effort and attention.  But the effort is worth it, you are worth it! 

We are all worthy of time to reflect, time to rest, time to connect with what our needs are.

Amy Engleman

Psychotherapist

www.AmyEngleman.com

T 07939 101 645

You might be interested in our Centred Sundays to give you some headspace if you are struggling

https://centredmums.com/introducing-centred-sundays-from-july/